A series a cultural events and celebrations to mark Palau's 23rd Independence Day peaked with last night spectacular 45-minute fireworks display at the national capital in Ngerulmud, Melekeok. 

Over a thousand people took part in the festivities at the capital grounds with food and entertainment until the evening hours. Cultural and contemporary dance performances and live band with some of Palau's popular singers provided entertainment. In the evening, local and foreign dignitaries started arriving for the opening ceremony. After the seating of guests, Jay Watanabe opened the program with a traditional chant followed by an opening prayer by the Vicar of Catholic Church, Father Rusk Saburo. Everyone stood up in silence as a group of Palau musicians pierced the air with the rendition of the Palau national anthem. 
A recognition of guest and presentation of flower bouquet followed. Reklai Raphael Bao Ngirmang gave the welcoming remarks of the opening ceremony. A 9th grader from the Palau Mission Academy, Bhilanna L. Temol, read her winning essay on the Independence Day. Congratulatory messages from Palau's friends were also read at the ceremony. 
The presiding officer of the Olbiil Era Kelulau — Senate president Hokkons Baules and Speaker Sabino Anastacio gave the special remarks. President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., gave the Independence Day message. The series of event started on September 27 with sports activities. 
European Film Festival, Walkathon, cocktail reception and tour of conservation area in Babeldaob, and a rock island trip for the dignitaries. The activities will conclude today with the traditional Independence Day boat race at the Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge. 
Boats will compete in different horsepower categories. But what is expected to be the top draw will be the 90-hp race with two women competing. Jennifer Sugiyama and Virian Kanai are said to be racing in the event with Gordon Iwetechong so far as the lone men in the 90-hp category. 

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